Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Kabul wedding bomb survivors nervously await news of loved ones

Crowd outside trauma hospital wait for news of friends and relatives after ISIS attack on wedding killed 63

Afghans look for the names of their relatives and friends outside the emergency trauma hospital in Kabul. An ISIS suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowded wedding hall in the Afghan capital on Saturday night, killing 63 and injuring 180 guests. Hikmat Noori for The National
Afghans look for the names of their relatives and friends outside the emergency trauma hospital in Kabul. An ISIS suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowded wedding hall in the Afghan capital on Saturday night, killing 63 and injuring 180 guests. Hikmat Noori for The National

The day after a horrifying suicide attack that killed 63 guests at a Kabul wedding, there was a crowd of people outside the emergency trauma hospital, desperate for news of their missing loved ones.

The explosion on Saturday evening, which has been claimed by ISIS, targeted a Hazara Shiite minority wedding with more than 1,000 guests on the western edge of the city, injuring 180.

There was an eerie silence among the relatives, friends and survivors as they waited for updates.

Many were still in shock while others prayed silently. All tried to come to terms with yet another ISIS attack on minority-community civilians.

“I just arrived from a mass funeral where we buried 13 members of one family,” a man, who did not want to be identified, told The National, but was too overwhelmed to share more.

“This sorrow will stay with us forever.”

Samiullah, 32, had not slept all night. His eyes were bloodshot and he sat cross-legged outside the hospital gate, with an energy drink in his hand to help keep himself awake.

“Three of my relatives are inside with serious injuries. I am just waiting to be allowed to see them,” he said.

Khan Mohammad, 70, waits outside the emergency hospital with his brother for news on his nephew, who is in a coma due to injuries sustained in an ISIS attack on a Hazara Shia wedding in Kabul on Saturday night. Hikmat Noori for The National
Khan Mohammad, 70, waits outside the emergency hospital with his brother for news on his nephew, who is in a coma due to injuries sustained in an ISIS attack on a Hazara Shia wedding in Kabul on Saturday night. Hikmat Noori for The National

Samiullah’s clothes and hands were covered in dried blood as he had tried to help bring some of the many injured guests to hospital.

“They attack us everywhere – in mosques, schools, in our homes," he said. "It happens all over Afghanistan and our government can’t protect us."

A woman sobs silently near by. Her nephew, Nazir Ahmad, 24, an employee of Air India in Kabul, was among the injured, but she did not find out until the following morning.

She brought her nephew and his siblings up after they lost both parents.

“All Nazir’s friends died," she said, choking. "They were all young and some of them recently got engaged. I am thankful to God that my nephew survived."

Mr Ahmad, whose brother Sakhi escaped injury, remains in a critical condition with injuries to both of his legs and the back of his head, said his sister Tooba, 29.

"He had been through surgery, and the family remained hopeful of his recovery," she said.

“I lost my parents so my brothers are all I have. They are like my eyes. When I first heard about Nazir’s injuries, I felt my soul leave me.”

Anger and frustration added to the crowd's shock, trauma and dread. Repeated attacks on the city have claimed too many lives and left behind injuries and emotional scars.

“I don’t know what kind of Muslim they are,” said Khan Mohammed, 70, while waiting with his brother for news of his nephew, who was in a coma.

“What Islamic faith do they follow? In my 70 years I never before saw Muslims killing other Muslims in the name of Islam.”

Thirteen people from his hamlet, which was also the groom's home, had been killed.

In the first six months of 2019, 1,366 civilians were killed and 2,446 injured as a result of fighting in the country, the UN mission in Afghanistan said.

Updated: August 19, 2019 01:57 AM

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